Here are a few things to keep in mind while driving on the northern beaches in order to make your experience enjoyable and safe:
All vehicles to be driven on the beach and roads behind the dunes must be registered, properly licensed, and insured.
If your vehicle is not equipped with 4WD, do not attempt to drive on the beach.
Fill your gas tank before driving onto the beach. There are no gas stations located in the four-wheel drive area.
Well before approaching the beach ramp (four-wheel-drive area), stop in a legal parking area and adjust the air pressure to 15-20 psi in all four tires. This will provide more surface contact with the sand.
Do not stop or park in the Corolla beach ramp area. Use 4WD onto the ramp and maintain a slow, steady speed, watching for pedestrians at all times.
Once on the beach, there is no parking until you reach mile post 14 (approximately 1 mile). Do not stop until you are clear of all posted no parking/stopping zones, on narrow sections of the beach; Continue driving to an area where the beach is wide enough to allow other travelers to pass, both at the water’s edge and at the dune line.
The speed limit on the beaches of Corolla is 35 mph. On the shore or beach strand, the speed limit is 15 mph when traveling within 300 feet of any person or animal. When approaching another vehicle, use your turn signal to indicate on which side you plan to pass. (It is customary to pass on the right, when practical). The other vehicle should respond with a corresponding signal.
Parking correctly on the beach is critical for the safety of people and pets. Always keep your vehicle and personal property such as chairs, beach umbrellas, etc. centered and between the waterline and the dune line. This may involve moving vehicles and belongings with the tide change.
The beach is a State recognized “road” or Public Vehicular Area (PVA). The shoreline (next to the water’s edge) and dune traffic lane (those deeply rutted tracks next to the dunes) are designated Fire, Emergency, and Vehicular traffic lanes. The law requires that individuals fill all ruts and holes and level any sand structures they have created.
Parking or setting up beach equipment is not permitted in these lanes. Do not impede traffic by stopping, setting up beach chairs, digging holes, or building sand structures in the designated traffic lanes.
Vehicles parked on the beaches of Corolla must be parked in the area east of the dune line and west of the hard packed sand strip, adjacent to the water’s edge. No chairs, coolers, fishing lines, holes, trenches, or any other items are permitted to block the foreshore. This would restrict vehicular movement in a north-south direction along the dune line or along the water’s edge.
Remember to WATCH FOR PEDESTRIANS! The loud sound of the surf can make it difficult for people to hear approaching vehicles. In addition, children are often distracted and dart in front of cars. As a driver, it is your responsibility to stay alert. As a pedestrian, it is your responsibility to not impede traffic.
Watch for wild horses while driving on the beach, especially at night. The horses roam the beach freely and many of them are dark in color, making them hard to spot at night.
Be aware of the tides when beach driving in Corolla. The beach road becomes very narrow at high tide and people have been known to lose their cars if they aren’t careful!
As always, don’t drink and drive.
FOLLOW THE LAW
Each year, thousands of visitors enjoy the beaches of the Currituck Outer Banks. To ensure this natural environment is maintained – and that visitors are protected as well – Currituck County has established ordinances and laws.
Parking – No vehicle of any type may park or unload at the North Beach Access at any time. This must be done on the beach past the 1/2 mile mark. VIOLATORS SHALL BE TOWED. Operators must be 16 years of age and possess a valid driver’s license. Overnight parking against or on the dunes is illegal.
Reckless Driving – Driving a vehicle in a repeated circular motion – doing “donuts” – or driving in the surf are examples of careless and reckless driving. Reckless driving and other traffic offenses are violations of North Carolina Motor Vehicle laws. The beach and the sand roads behind the dunes are Public Vehicular Areas, and these laws are enforced.
Dunes – Walking or driving a vehicle on the North Beach dunes is prohibited.
Wild Horses – While on the northern Outer Banks beaches, you may come in contact with our famous Colonial Spanish Mustangs. Keep in mind, they are wild – do not approach them. IT IS AGAINST THE LAW TO GET CLOSER THAN 50 FEET OR TO FEED THEM. Feed them can (and has been) fatal. Please view the horses from a respectable distance and encourage others to do the same. If you observe an injured horse, please call the Corolla Wild Horse Fund at 252-453-8002.
Pets – Currituck County has a county-wide leash law. Your pet must be on a leash at all times. And remember; please clean up after your pet!
Restrooms – There are no public restrooms on the northern Currituck beaches. Public urination is prohibited in Currituck County.
Littering – Please help keep our beaches clean by removing all trash from the beach when you leave.
Bonfires – Open-burning, including bonfires on the beach, is prohibited. This includes the dunes and the subdivisions/areas behind the dunes. Also, glass is not permitted on any of the Currituck beaches.
Beach Camping – Overnight camping on the beach is prohibited.
All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) – ATVs are no longer allowed on the beaches of Currituck County for non-residents.
Personal Watercraft (Jet Skis) – Launching of personal watercraft is prohibited on the Atlantic Ocean side of Currituck County, but you may enjoy your personal watercraft in the Currituck Sound. Public ramps are located at the Whalehead Club.
Fireworks – Fireworks that are self-propelled, spin, or explode are illegal in North Carolina. This State regulation is enforced on the Currituck beach and behind the dunes. Fireworks, including those that are legal, are extremely hazardous because of dry beach grasses, closely-built wood structures, high winds, and other factors.
Swimming – A red flag on the beach indicates that ocean conditions are not safe for swimming. All forms of water activity are prohibited. Any entry into the water when red flags are flying shall be a misdemeanor punishable by fine of not more than $500 or not more than 30 days imprisonment. Surfboards at least five feet in length and equipped with a leash are exempted.
If you observe others violating the law, please call the Currituck County Sheriff’s Office at 252-232-2216.
IF YOU NEED HELP Emergency: 9-1-1 Non-emergency 252.232.2216
The Carova Beach Volunteer Fire Department is located at 2169 Ocean Pearl Road. To get to the station from the beach, turn at the ramp located between the 21 and 22 mile markers. The ramp has a Fire House sign marking the turn. The Fire Station is not staffed at all times but does provide local response to 9-1-1 calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Many people and animals live on the North Beach. The dunes and property behind them are privately owned. Please restrict driving to the traveled roads. The laws of the beach are enforceable in this area as well.
OTHER THINGS TO REMEMBER
House numbers (addresses) behind the dunes correspond with the beach mile markers.
The Carova Beach Volunteer Fire & Rescue Auxiliary sells T-shirts, ice, and cold drinks at the station, Wednesday through Sunday from 12 to 2 p.m. throughout the summer season.
An outside pay telephone is available at the Carova Beach Fire Station.